For many years now, Hollywood has amplified the idea of a zombie apocalypse for a long time, and the stories have grown increasingly popular in pop culture, particularly due to TV shows like The Walking Dead and movies like Resident Evil and World War Z. And so far we all have been watching it and considered it to be only entertainment. But few people knows that it is in fact possible, that it could happen in reality.
In May 2011 Although it may seem unbelievable, and this was not a satire piece or a joke. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control, which has been deeply engaged in the fictions of Swine Flu and other so-called “pandemics,” did publicly send a warning to all Americans to at least be prepared for a zombie apocalypse possibility.
In a May 16th blog entry on the CDC.gov website you could read, the CDC’s zombie apocalypse article is, of course, an alternative effort to reach a younger crowd by appealing to mainstream youth interests which now include anything having to do with vampires and zombies. The article actually offers a useful but rudimentary set of preparedness tips that include gathering up emergency medicine supplies, food, water and tools. And its real.
Recently Red Orbit website reached out to a couple of microbiologists to weigh in on the subject of a “what-if” zombie virus in a real-world science-driven scenario. The scientists were asked to dream up a scenario in which a zombie virus could become reality, and if we take Hollywood out of the picture and instead use what they know about microbiology. Interestingly, both scientists had the same answer for a source: Rabies.
“I think that the Zombie Virus already exists: Rabies. Infection is nearly 100 percent lethal, i.e. it turns you into the walking dead for a while at least, and it causes you to change your behaviour by reprogramming you to bite other people to spread the infection. Now if only it kept the corpse walking around,” Jonathan D. Dinman, PhD, Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland, say:
“Essentially, the rabies virus would need to be slightly altered, or would have to evolve, in a way to keep people kicking and screaming for their next victim rather than killing them off just a few days after symptoms occur.”
People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at how folks 150 years ago did it.
These guys were the last generation to practice basic things-for a living-that we call survival skills now.
Survival Things Our Great Grandfathers Did Or Built Around The House
Are you ready to turn back the clocks to the 1800s for up to three years?
Rabies has to incubate inside the body before showing signs of infection, which includes anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, paralysis, agitation, hyper salivation, difficulty swallowing and hydrophobia — fear of water. This incubation period can last anywhere from 10 days to a year, meaning a “zombie virus outbreak” may look a little slower and less “viral” than movies tend to portray.
“When we think of rabies, we think of dogs with foaming mouths but this virus is actually the most likely to mutate into something that would be similar to a ‘zombie virus’,” Dr. Samantha Price, an HCPC registered Biomedical Scientist and Research Information Co-ordinator for the UK MND Association, say:
“The common symptoms of rabies are dislike of ‘bright lights’ and a fear of water. When you think of the film ‘I am Legend’ the zombie-like creatures here dislike both of these things. Rabies is also transmitted via bodily fluids, bites etc and due to the virus making the individual increasingly aggressive the symptoms of rabies seem to be more alike to a Hollywood zombie than you probably previously thought,” said Dr Price.
“Rabies is, however, highly fatal so the virus would need to mutate in a way that would make it less fatal — so that it could cause a ‘zombie-like’ outbreak.”
Parasites that turn victims into mindless, zombie-like slaves are fairly common in nature. There’s one called toxoplasmosa gondii that seems to devote its entire existence to being terrifying.
This bug infects rats, but can only breed inside the intestines of a cat. The parasite knows it needs to get the rat inside the cat (yes, we realize this sounds like the beginning of the most fucked-up Dr. Seuss poem ever) so the parasite takes over the rat’s freaking brain, and intentionally makes it scurry toward where the cats hang out. The rat is being programmed to get itself eaten, and it doesn’t even know.
There are certain kinds of poisons that slow your bodily functions to the point that you’ll be considered dead, even to a doctor (okay, maybe not to a good doctor). The poison from fugu (Japanese blowfish) can do this. The victims can then be brought back under the effects of a drug like datura stramonium (or other chemicals called alkaloids) that leave them in a trance-like state with no memory, but still able to perform simple tasks like eating, sleeping, moaning and shambling around with their arms outstretched.
Another very threatening disease is the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Just check out the symptoms:
Changes in gait (walking)
Lack of coordination (for example, stumbling and falling)
Myoclonic jerks or seizures
Rapidly developing delirium or dementia
Yes, the disease is rare (though maybe not as rare as we think) and the afflicted aren’t known to chase after people in murderous mobs. Yet. But, it proves widespread brain infections of the Rage variety are just a matter of waiting for the right disease to come along. If the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease would mutate anything could happen.
If the whole sudden, mindless violence idea seems far-fetched, remember that you are just one brain chemical (serotonin) away from turning into a mindless killing machine (they’ve tested it by putting rats in Deathmatch-style cages and watching them turn on each other). All it would take is a disease that destroys the brain’s ability to absorb that one chemical and suddenly it’s a real-world 28 Days Later.
Could Scientists Really Create a Zombie Apocalypse Virus?
Before they appeared in movies, zombies played an important role in voodoo (or vodoun) culture in West Africa and Haiti. The word probably comes from nzambi, which roughly translates to, “spirit of a dead person.” Zombies are humans without a soul. In the early 1980s, ethnobotanist Wade Davis proposed that zombies were more than mere witchcraft and folklore, and that zombie powder found in Haitian ceremonies might be derived from tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin that blocks nerve channels.
Davis drew his hypothesis partially from real-world examples such as the female jewel wasp (pictured), which injects its tetrodotoxin into a cockroach’s brain, shutting down the roach’s fight-or-flight response. The wasp then leads the drugged bug into its burrow, lays its eggs upon the cockroach’s abdomen and, eight days later, the larvae hatch and feed upon the roach, burrowing into its innards. The cockroach is alive throughout and under the wasp’s control.
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